Murder victim found in East Germantown

East Germantown residents are reacting to the shooting death of a 28-year old man whose body was discovered last week on a quiet residential street across from a recreation center.

The event has a few people rattled on the 700 block of East Rittenhouse Street, where the wide tree-lined way rises up to well kept rows with spacious, open porches.

“We never had no mess like this in 40 years,” said a man speaking from behind a locked door. He would only identify himself as the neighborhood’s block captain.

Many more agree, this block just isn’t known for shootings.

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According to police the body of Don Gladden, the city’s second murder victim of the year, was found in the driver’s seat of 2001 minivan at about 1 p.m. Jan. 4. Gladden was shot twice in the stomach and once in the head.

While neighbors couldn’t agree more about the how quiet the block is, there was some confusion over just how long the Pontiac minivan was parked there.

Some, like Milt Johnson, were sure the vehicle wasn’t there when he left for work that morning, while others, like Athena Dooley, were certain it had been around for a few days before the discovery.

The call made to police that afternoon was a report of a body in a vehicle, police said, not a shooting.

When police arrived nearly everyone turned out to watch the investigation.

“It was like CSI for real,” Dooley said.

Several residents said, even though the event was clearly a tragedy, finding a murder victim on their block didn’t really impact daily life.

“It’s the life that you live… It doesn’t phase me because that ain’t my world,” one resident said, but he too refused to be identified because of the nature of the incident.

Robert Jones was shaken by something he saw during the police investigation.  A man arrived at the scene who Jones believed was a close relation to the victim. When the man saw Don Gladden dead in the vehicle he went berserk with emotion, Jones said, running up the street swearing and screaming at the top of his lungs.

There have been no arrests in the case, and no suspected motive for the killing, according to police.

For Jones and his wife Isabella, who consider themselves the longest standing residents on the block at 47 years, part of the shock of the crime has been in just how little attention it has gotten from the media, and even apparently from police, they said.

The Inquirer ran a short announcement of the crime Jan. 4 but Jones and many others expected to see something on TV, or investigators knocking on doors.

“I don’t care what he was into, I don’t even know the person,” Jones said. “He lost his life and he got nothing.”

“That guy [the killer] could still be living around here,” added Jones’ son, Kevin.

A police representative said the investigation is ongoing.

Conversations touched on the crime as people worked to dig out of the snow on Wednesday but few points brought up more concern than Walter Walden’s.

“What really is distressing to me is right there you’ve got Waterview, the recreation center, and you’ve got kids playing there,” he said.

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